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Juniperus Communis ‘Pencil Point’ Care – The Complete Guide

Juniperus Communis ‘Pencil Point’ Care – The Complete Guide

The Pencil Point Juniper, as this shrub is commonly known, is typical of the phrase ‘dynamite comes in small packages’. This tree, despite being smaller in size, is super hardy! Not at all what you would expect from this narrow and columnar-shaped plant. 

Botanically, this tree is known as the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’. This is due to it being a cultivar of the common Juniper. These trees have been around since the 1850s and can be found throughout the northern-most hemisphere.

Regions you are likely to find this ‘Pencil Point’ shrub include Russia, China,  Europe, the inner part of the Arctic Circle, and even in the mountainous areas of the Mexican border. 

Other names you may find this cultivar labeled as are the Juniperus communis ‘Sentinel’ or ‘Compressa’.

All three of these names refer to shrubs that are practically identical to one another. They are all commonly known as the Pencil Point Juniper. 

 


 

Growth, size, and appearance of the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’

The Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ is easily distinguished. This shrub is an evergreen beauty that boasts an elegant foliage color like many others of its genus.

The colors the needle-like foliage of this tree maintains vary slightly between a mix of slivery-gray, silver-blue as well as blueish-green. Regardless of the color mix, this tree is sure to make an exclamation point for your garden! 

Speaking of exclamation points, that is exactly what this small tree resembles in form. The Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ is a densely growing tree that keeps to a narrow and upright shape throughout its lifespan.

Its cone-shaped form is created through the growth habit of its branches. 

The branches on the Pencil Point Juniper are multi-stemmed and grow in a narrowly and upright fashion. This habit of growth is what keeps this shrub looking tightly dense and well-maintained year-round.

Being a super low-maintenance tree, the Pencil Point Juniper looks well-maintained with very little to no effort at all. 

Being on the smaller side and a slow-grower, the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ only has an annual growth rate of between 5cm to 12.7cm (2in to 5in).

At maturity, these trees will only reach a height of between 0.6m to 1.5m (2ft to 5ft). At their absolute maximum height, these trees may grow to 1.8m to 2.4m (6ft to 8ft).

However, this will take many years as Pencil Point Junipers are only estimated to reach a height of about 0.9m to 1.2m (3ft to 4ft) after ten years. 

As these shrubs take on a narrow and columnar form, their spread is not very large. These trees are likely to only reach a width of about 0.3m (1ft). This makes them the perfect choice for small spaces that other shrubs are likely to outgrow. 

 

Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ Care

The Pencil Point Juniper is a tough little tree that does not fuss too much over minor things. These shrubs are extremely cold hardy right down to the -40°C (-40°F) range. However, they are not as tolerant to temperatures on the other end of the scale. The Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ does not do well in hotter or more humid locations. To create an environment that your Pencil Point Juniper will thrive in is simple. All this tree needs is access to full sun for at least six hours per day, well-draining soil, and an annual feeding with an all-purpose fertilizer in the spring. Once established, this easy-going shrub will not even require manual watering. It is super water-wise and will happily wait to be watered by a rain shower. Grooming and maintenance are also minimal and it is sometimes not necessary at all. 

 

Soil 

These hardy little trees are not one to complain when it comes to the type of soil they are planted in. The Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ only has one preference. This shrub requires a soil type with fast-draining characteristics. 

Pencil Point Junipers will adapt to just about any kind of soil, but their roots do not do well left in wet conditions. These trees are not resistant to root rot, which is why it is important that they are planted in well-draining soil. 

Types of soils the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ will adjust to are anything from sandy, or loamy soils to clay, chalky, or rocky soils.

This tree will grow just fine in ordinary garden soil as well as poorer soils. The pH level of the soil is also not an issue. 

As with all plants though, the Pencil Point Juniper has preferences. If given the choice, this tree would prefer to be in well-draining soil, this is non-negotiable, with a slightly acidic pH level. 

If the soil your Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ is planted in is of a heavier consistency and does not drain well, there are a few things you can do to help. As it is vital for the tree’s health and survival, measures should be taken to remedy dense soils. 

By simply adding a coarse mix to your tree’s soil, will increase the aeration and drainage. Stones or small rocks can be added to the soil too. A cactus mix or coarse sand will also work wonders for soil drainage. 

 

Watering

The quantity and frequency of watering that is required by the Pencil Point Juniper are dependent on the shrub’s level of establishment. For a Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ that has been newly planted, manually watering your plant will be necessary. 

The first year or two after planting your Pencil Point Juniper are the most important.

For a strong and healthy plant, it will need a good system of roots. Watering your shrub every so often will ensure that it grows an extensive system of roots. Having a well-developed root system is also what assists this tree with being drought-resistant. 

In this tree’s beginning years, the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ should always have slightly moist soil. To maintain this level of moisture, you will need to check your shrub’s soil regularly.

If the first 2.5cm (1in) of topsoil has dried out, it is time to water your tree. Generally, you can expect your Pencil Point Juniper to need a watering every two to three days. 

Once established, however, you will not be required to water this shrub at all. With an excellent tolerance to drought, the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ will live and grow comfortably with only being watered when it rains.

The only time it might be necessary for you to water an established tree is if the weather has been exceptionally hot and it has experienced an extended period without rain.

It should also be noted that the Pencil Point Juniper does not require an excessive amount of water. This shrub is fairly water-wise and only needs enough water to make its surrounding soil evenly moist. 

 

Temperature

The Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ has slightly different preferences to other plants of its genus. Like most plants in the Juniperus genus, the Pencil Point Juniper has exceptional tolerance to the cold.

The difference comes in with this shrub’s tolerance to heat and humidity. These trees are tough and will take just about anything in their stride, except heat and humidity.

Pencil Point Junipers are not hardy in extremely hot temperatures. However, what they lack in tolerance for heat, they make up for in their tolerance for the cold! These narrow shrubs are hardy to temperatures as low as -45.6°C (-50°F). 

As a guideline, the hardiness zones that are best suited for this little tree are zones 2 to 6. 

 

Location

There are not many places that you could put this tree in that it would not do well in. The Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ requires only to be placed in a location with access to full sun.

For the best possible health and growth results, a spot with access to at least six hours of sunlight per day is ideal.

Pencil Point Junipers not only suit being planted directly into the ground, these shrubs make for elegant additions to any pot or planter.

Their shape and size perfectly suit a small space and their foliage color bring its other features together making it a wonderful accent plant. 

Another notable characteristic of the Pencil Point Juniper is that it is tolerant of air pollution as well as urban pollution. It has no issues growing in an open area and in fact, grows quite well in windy or exposed locations.

The Pencil Point Juniper is also suitable to be planted underneath powerlines as it has a low canopy. 

It does not matter where you choose to put this plant. Provided the spot meets the tree’s need for full sun, it will surely add the little bit of finesse your landscape may otherwise lack. 

It is best to keep in mind that the location in which your select to plant your Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ will affect the tree’s growth pattern.

If the spot is not ideal for the shrub, you may notice a slower rate of growth or even a lack of vibrance in the plant’s needle-like foliage. 

 

Pruning

Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ is an exceptionally low maintenance tree. It takes minimal to no effort to keep this shrub in tip-top shape. The Pencil Point Juniper does not require any clipping or pruning for it to appear freshly groomed. 

The only time pruning may be necessary is if the tree develops an issue such as a disease or pest infestation. This may require you to prune off dead stems or remove affected branches. 

Pruning is best done late in the winter, once any threat of extremely cold conditions has passed. 

 

Fertilizer

Pencil Point Junipers are not only low-maintenance when it comes to grooming, but their upkeep is also minimal. These coned trees enjoy a general-purpose fertilizer annually to keep their growth healthy. Fertilizer is best applied early in the spring.

 

Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ uses

The Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ trees have an extensive list of uses. They are popular because of this and no matter what they are being used for, they are bound to look fantastic.

To begin, these trees can be used in formal gardens or just for general garden use. They make eye-catching additions to rock gardens or can be used in foundation planting as a single specimen. 

Pencil Point Junipers are often used as accent plants, container plants, for the art of bonsai, as well as for xeriscaping.

But, these trees are not just suitable for use as a singular specimen. They are also known to be used to create hedges, hedgerows, screens, and shrub borders.   

 

Pests and diseases 

Pencil Point Junipers may encounter problems with a few nagging insects. Some diseases are also of concern. A typical pest that is of no concern is deer. They tend to steer clear of the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ as they do not particularly like its prickly foliage. 

Pests and diseases that should be looked out for are bagworms, scale, mites, borers, wilt, cedar apple rust, and most importantly, Juniper blight. Juniper blight is known to be a major issue for Juniper trees.

These trees are also prone to root rot if not watered appropriately. 

With proper care and maintenance, serious issues and infestations can be easily avoided. 

 

Frequently asked questions about the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’

 

Does the Pencil Point Juniper produce fruit?

Yes, the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ grows a small cone that is black in color, known as a Juniper berry. These berries are not only edible but are also used in gin. The Juniper berries are what give the characteristic flavor to gin. 

 

Can you propagate the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’?

Propagating the Pencil Point Juniper is possible, however, it is a time-consuming process. Propagation of this shrub can be done through grafting or cuttings. 

Conclusion

Small as the Juniperus communis ‘Pencil Point’ tree is, it is flashy and bold and is sure to stand out in any landscaping situation.

These shrubs do not only look beautiful, but they are also known to attract beauty. Songbirds are drawn to these trees so you are in for a real treat! 

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